What a ride, indeed.
Alonzo Mourning went out Thursday with the same class he carried through his 15-year NBA career.
You can't say enough about the courage Mourning displayed in returning to the league after undergoing a kidney transplant in 2003. Thousands of those affected by kidney disease were, and still are inspired by him. If Mourning's off-the-court record is any indication, he'll continue to find ways to inspire for years to come.
The final blow came in the form of ruptured quadriceps and patellar tendons in 2007. Despite the fact that surgeons warned Mourning he may never walk again, he held out hope of returning to the court. The Miami Heat even kept a locker waiting for him.
It wasn't meant to be. At 38, Mourning walks away. He has 1) nothing to be ashamed of, and 2) nothing left. He left it all on the floor.
Is he a Hall of Famer? Maybe, maybe not. Mourning finishes his career 10th in NBA history with 2,356 blocked shots and 77th with 7,137 rebounds. He was a seven-time All-Star, two-time defensive player of the year, and all-time great for reasons that go way beyond putting the ball in the basket.
Good luck, Zo. You'll be missed. Whenever I watch someone drive unimpeded to the basket for an uncontested layup -- which only happens about 500 times a week -- I'll think of No. 33